A.V. Club Most Read

News Newswire Great Job, Internet!
TV Club All Reviews What's On Tonight
Video All Video A.V. Undercover A.V. Cocktail Club Film Club
Reviews All Reviews Film TV Music Books
Features All Features Great Job, Internet! Newswire
Sections Film Tv Music Food Comedy Books Games Aux
Our Company About Us Contact Advertise Privacy Policy Careers RSS
Onion Inc. Sites The Onion The A.V. Club ClickHole Onion Studios

The Hammer

B+

The Hammer

Community Grade (3 Users)

  • A
  • A-
  • B+
  • B
  • B-
  • C+
  • C
  • C-
  • D+
  • D
  • D-
  • F

Your Grade

?

Nobody expects greatness from Adam Carolla, the wisecracking second banana on two of the more noxious television programs of the past decade: The Man Show and Loveline. Heck, people barely expect adequacy from the veteran radio personality. So at least some of the positive buzz surrounding his feature-film vehicle The Hammer seems attributable to low expectations. Like its hard-luck title character, the ramshackle comedy boasts the element of surprise. The Hammer sure doesn't look like much on paper: a television journeyman and novice actor leading a no-name cast in a low-budget comic variation on the tried-and-true Rocky formula. But much of the film's charm comes from its scruffy, self-effacing modesty; it's a relaxed, affable underdog about a relaxed, affable underdog.

Carolla makes an unexpectedly assured transition to leading man as a 40-year-old carpenter who long ago gave up on dreams of boxing glory in favor of a solid, mildly soul-crushing working-class existence. But Carolla gets an unexpected second chance at glory when a prominent trainer with ulterior motives takes him under his wing. Carolla starts off as little more than an unpaid punching dummy, serving as an unwitting sparring partner for a younger, more promising boxer. Yet through hard work, heart, and the miracle of boxing-movie clichés, he quickly morphs from chump to contender.

Like his character, Carolla once toiled as a carpenter, and The Hammer is infused with a loving eye for the details of blue-collar life, from the protagonist's grey little apartment and taunting, much-abused alarm clock to a scene where Carolla and an unbilled Jane Lynch engage in deadpan one-upmanship by trading impenetrable home-improvement jargon. A populist crowd-pleaser and nifty little sleeper, The Hammer ambles along agreeably on the strength of its star's likeable turn and a tone that's subtle and disarmingly sweet. In yet another unexpected twist—at least by Man Show and Loveline standards—the film gives Carolla a love interest (Heather Juergensen, of Kissing Jessica Stein semi-fame) who's smart, substantive, quirky, and not the typical twentysomething glamour girl. The Hammer is shockingly not bad. Even more shockingly, it's quite good.

Key features: Amusing deleted scenes, a freewheeling conversation between Carolla and sidekick Oswaldo Castillo, and a loose, self-deprecating audio commentary from Carolla and screenwriter Kevin Hench.